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I'll See Your Five GWACs and Raise You a Handful of Standalone Contracts!

Posted By Guy Timberlake, The American Small Business Coalition, LLC, Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum.

Actually, a funny thing happened as I was looking at governmentwide obligations for FY14, although it might not be so funny for some of the folks who spent time and money to win one of the GWAC's from GSA.

What am I talking about? Do you really have to ask? I've been having this conversation for a while now (thankfully not with myself) trying to drive the point home about "know how your customer is buying now and may buy tomorrow."

You're going to make me do it aren't you? Fine, here you go.

Just like the GSA Schedule, Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) streamline the acquisition process for agencies that choose to leverage them based on a number of criteria. GWAC's however, are uniquely and specifically Information Technology contract vehicles and currently, only three agencies have the authority to create them. The General Services Administration, NASA and the National Institutes of Health (NITAAC). GSA launched a handy-dandy online dashboard that contains information about their contract vehicles (STARS, STARS II, ALLIANT. ALLINAT SB and the VETS GWAC), but not the others. If you pay it a visit like I did, you'll see that YTD obligations for FY14 total $1.4B. Here's a snapshot for you...

There are six NAICS Codes referenced in the obligations for these contracts. They are: 518210; 541511; 541512; 541513; 541519, and; 611420. I decided to check out governmentwide spending where agencies did not reference an indefinite delivery vehicle number (IDV) as they do for buys made against GWAC's, the GSA Schedule, IDIQ's and BPAs.

Guess what I found out?

Buys under these six NAICS Codes made using definitive contracts and purchase orders, competitive and non-competitive, rang the bell at $1.6B YTD. You're going to ask me about competition now. I anticipated that! My friendly neighborhood public source of historical federal agency transaction data (FPDS-NG) tells me that $1B of the standalone contract buys were FULL AND OPEN ($720M); FULL AND OPEN AFTER EXCLUSION OF SOURCES ($223M) and COMPETED UNDER SAP ($50M). The agencies making the standalone buys? Same one's making the buys against the GWAC's and all other contract vehicles. In fact, there are fifty-five federal agencies, boards and commissions contributing to this cause. In case you wanted to know, $432M was set-aside for small business concerns and a total of $584M was awarded to small business concerns, regardless of set-aside.

What's my point? Many companies have put all their eggs into one basket and are waiting to see what GSA will throw over the proverbial fence. The number of these open market buys going to companies on these contract vehicles is relatively low which means they aren't looking, by design or by mistake I'm not certain which. The other piece of this is where is the market research? $1B in buys for the kind of stuff for which you received a major contract award, yet the government opts not to go that route. Interesting.

It's so very easy to assess spending history at the department-level, all the way down to individual contracting offices. It's up to you. You can even track it from the funding organizations. This at least gives you insight into what they have done, and we all know our Uncle Sam is just a tad bit averse to change. Right?

In full disclosure, this is really no surprise to me since of the $135B obligated by agencies since the start of FY14, $14B more of that total has been obligated to definitive contracts and purchase orders. What are they buying? Stay tuned for my next blog.

In the meantime, I'll see your five GWACs and raise you!


The Chief Visionary

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."

Tags:  Alliant  Alliant SB  contract  dashboard  FPDS-NG  GSA  GWAC  IT  Standalone  STARS  STARS II  VETS 

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